Local bank digs in at Short Pump, buys into Lynchburg

Essex Bank executives break ground on a branch in the West Broad Marketplace. (Courtesy Essex Bank)

Essex Bank executives break ground on a branch in the West Broad Marketplace. (Courtesy Essex Bank)

Continuing its streak of expansion in and outside of Richmond, a Henrico-based bank has taken two big steps toward its next pair of branches.

Essex Bank last week broke ground on construction for a branch at West Broad Marketplace in Short Pump, and recently completed its purchase of a building in Lynchburg.

The site at West Broad Marketplace, an under-construction shopping center anchored by Cabela’s and Wegmans, will be the bank’s first outpost in Short Pump. And a deal with the shopping center’s developer will make it the only bank in the development.

CEO Rex Smith said the bank has a ground lease for the land and will build and own a 5,000-square-foot building on the site. The bank branch will occupy 2,000 square feet, with the rest leased out to another tenant.

Smith said construction should be complete in April or May.

He said the goal at Short Pump will be to gather about $15 million in deposits in its first year.

“In today’s world, if you can get to $18 million in deposits (at a given branch) you’re pretty much at break-even.”

KBS is the general contractor on the project and Evolve Architects designed the branch’s exterior and interior, which will feature an open floor plan without a traditional teller line.

Northern Virginia-based NVRetail is developing West Broad Marketplace.

A rendering of the planned Essex Bank branch. (Courtesy Essex Bank)

A rendering of the planned Essex Bank branch. (Courtesy Essex Bank)

President Jack Waghorn said the project has had delays, but its next phases are in the works, including a new restaurant pad site on the center’s eastern West Broad Street-fronting side, as well as site work for more retail space on the western side.

“We’re charging along,” Waghorn said. “We’ve had a couple of unavoidable delays on some of the site work, but we’re still moving forward.”

About 300,000 square feet of space has been built at West Broad Marketplace, with about 100,000 to go. Waghorn said the company is finalizing a lease with a restaurant tenant for the pad site, and has what he called a big surprise retail tenant in the works for the western portion of the project.

“I think it will be a very interesting addition to the retail mix of that side of West Broad Street,” he said.

Citing statistics tracked by traffic counters installed at the shopping center’s entrances, Waghorn said about 1 million cars passed through the development in the last six months.

“It means we’re shifting the retail west on West Broad Street,” he said. “I’ve been in the shopping center business a long time and I was frankly shocked the amount of traffic we’re getting.”

Two hours southwest of Richmond, Essex is working to open its first branch in Lynchburg, where it bought a recently shuttered BB&T location.

Smith said the new location will compliment two lenders the bank already has on the ground in Lynchburg, who have built a $90 million portfolio of small business, commercial and industrial, and real estate loans.

Smith said he likes the Lynchburg market and its recent growth, driven in part by the presence of Liberty University and Randolph College and industrial employers like Frito Lay.

“There’s a good mix between service and manufacturing,” he said.

The bank plans to open that new branch in June. It will compete in Lynchburg with Bank of the James, Select Bank, BB&T, Wells Fargo and others.

Smith said Essex will continue to look to expand with new branches, following its recent growth around the Washington, D.C. metro area.

“Adding branches is expensive so we try to pace it. We still want to expand in south Richmond a bit, and we’re not going to stay with one branch in Lynchburg,” adding that it is still keen on further growth in Northern Virginia and Maryland.

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glen henrichs

Essex is a great Bank. Looking forward to the new location.